The jury in the rape trial of Danny Masterson has rendered a verdict, finding the “That ’70s Show” alum to be guilty on two counts of forcible rape.
As Variety reports, the jury was deadlocked on a third rape charge, arriving at 8-4 in favour of conviction.
Following that verdict, Masterson is facing a potential sentence of 30 years to life for conviction on those two charges, stemming from accusations that he raped three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
Variety also noted that the case has offered rare insight into the Church of Scientology (Masterson is a lifelong Scientologist) and its practices; all three of his alleged victims were Scientologists at the time the assaults were alleged to have taken place, but have all since left the church.
All three women testified that the church discouraged them from reporting Masterson to the police, due celebrity status.
“Like all predators, the defendant carefully sought out his prey,” prosecutor Ariel Anson said in his closing statement. “The church taught his victims that rape isn’t rape, that you cause this and above all you aren’t allowed to go to law enforcement. What better hunting ground? In Scientology, the defendant is a celebrity and he’s untouchable.”
Defense attorney Philip Cohen countered by claiming the prosecution’s focus on Scientology was a smokescreen meant to distract the jury from a weak case. “Why have we heard so much about Scientology?” Cohen asked. “Could it be there’s problems otherwise with the government’s case?”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Masterson’s family members were “fighting back tears” when the verdict was read, while his wife, Bijou Phillips, broke into tears.
This is Masterson’s second trial on those charges, after the first one ended with a hung jury.
Masterson was reportedly handcuffed and sent straight to jail, where he will remain until the next hearing on Aug. 4.